Imagine a wedding gift that you got. Not married? No problem. Imagine a really nice dress-up shirt or a really nice set of towels or silk bed sheets. Got it? Fantastic. This is our starting point.
Take that wedding gift, nice shirt, silk bed sheets, whatever, and throw it out the front door. Make sure it gets to the middle of the road in front of your house. Sit on a lawn chair in front of your house and drink some lemonade and watch car after car run over that beautiful and meaningful object you got. Sip on some refreshing lemonade or Southern sweet tea as the grime and dirt of the road really gets into the fiber of those silk bed sheets. Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff!
But it doesn’t end there. After a couple hours, grab that shirt (bed sheets, whatever) and give it to your dog (or your neighbor’s dog) to play with. Make sure they know that it’s theirs now and they can do whatever they want. After a week, steal it back from the dog and then set it on fire. Use it as fuel for your local community bonfire. Invite the neighborhood and make sure you tell them how much the gift you are now using as fire fuel meant to you. Done? Excellent! Welcome to Mighty No. 9.
There are few games in the last couple years that I was as excited for as Mighty No. 9. From the very moment the Kickstarter for the game was announced, I was extremely excited. Mighty No. 9 was presented as a spiritual successor to the world’s most famous blue bomber, MegaMan. Is it MegaMan? No, but it was meant to evoke the same feelings and sense of satisfaction from one of the industry’s greatest platformers. How was Mighty No. 9 going to achieve that? Keiji Inafune, illustrator and co-designer of MegaMan, came out as one of the game’s producers and hyped the idea in the minds of gamers that this was the MegaMan successor we were waiting for. The hype was real and we were excited. The screenshots were exciting. All the media surrounding the development of the game was extremely exciting.
It’s interesting how we do this to ourselves: we eat up the hype. Mighty No. 9 hype was like lethal heroine. It made you want more of it. We begged for it. And then, just like what I assume the first day of rehab feels like, leaves you completely empty. From Day One of Mighty No. 9’s release, the truth was sobering.
From glitch-filled game controls, to an unbelievably steep learning curve, to a break to the standard MegaMan formula of boss-weaknesses, to the downgrade in graphics and resolution, Mighty No. 9, in its final form, feels like that really nice shirt that was given to you, but was then treated through a dose of hell.
The only conclusion is that, at some point in the development process, the developers gave up. They gave up. Inefune and the team at Comcept Inc. realized that developing and deploying a high-quality platformer, promised to be like MegaMan, to 13 different platforms was impossible for them. Mighty No. 9 was released for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Shield Portable, Shield Tablet, and Shield Android TV. Really? Yes, really. So instead of delivering a high-quality platformer, without the cornucopia of glitches and bugs it came with, for a few platforms, they delivered a dirty pile of feces covered in acid in 13 platforms. Thanks guys!
I’m happy to admit that I am frustrated with Mighty No. 9, and the wrath in my opinions is fueled by how much I love the MegaMan series and how much I believed, and was led to believe, that this was a spiritual successor for the Blue Bomber. I was wrong. We were wrong, and the hype is our own fault for buying into. Nevertheless, when faced with questions about the game’s terrible release and deployment, Inefune owned up to the overwhelming goals the development team had set for the game, and how terribly it had been accomplished.
There is yet hope for MegaMan fans. Comprised of a team that includes Mark Pacini (Metroid Prime, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection), Joseph Staten (Halo, Halo: Contact Harvest, Destiny), and Inefune (Mega Man (1-10), Mega Man X (1-8), Resident Evil, Onimusha), ReCore may be the true spiritual successor that the Blue Bomber fandom has been waiting for. I have refused to buy into the ReCore hyped, mostly because I’m tired of being let down (I’m looking at you Ubisoft); however, if ReCore will deliver a game that matches the caliber of its development team, then there is yet hope.
Or this may be a sign, a sign that calling something a “spiritual successor” or attaching a “brand” to a game simply handicaps that game (see Tom Clancy’s The Division). Calling an independently-released game a “spiritual successor” elevates hopes and hype to levels hardly ever reached. Attaching “brand-names” to games that would have done well on their own, sets a number of expectations given that brand’s previous titles and successes. Maybe the industry should take a page from the lessons of Mighty No. 9 and simply let games be games, and not banner-titles for legendary brands and game series. Maybe.
Mighty No. 9 is a fun platformer if you go into it with no expectations. If you must play it, play it as an independent, anonymous robot-shooter platformer with a cute story. However, to call it a successor to MegaMan is an insult to the Blue Bomber and sets unreachable expectations on a game that was handicapped by an overstretched development team asked to do an impossible job.